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Weber power plant granted Federal license for another 40 years

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FILE – This Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, file photo shows power lines in Houston. When an unusually heavy winter storm blanketed much of Texas with snow, knocking out electricity to millions of homes and leaving many struggling to find clean water, one sector of the population was particularly vulnerable: inmates in Houston at the state’s largest county jail. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Rocky Mountain Power’s Weber hydroelectric plant has been granted a renewed operational license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

This comes after a six-year review process. Officials say the term of the license is 40 years.

The new license provides for electric generation to continue at the plant, with certain improvements for environmental quality and recreational access.

The main provisions according to officials are as follows:

  • A new fish ladder that will help improve habitat, migratory, and spawning access for two sensitive fish species: the bluehead sucker and the Bonneville cutthroat trout (Utah’s state fish).
  • Numerous recreation site improvements in the project area, including improved access to downstream reaches of the river, a new permanent restroom and accessible picnic area, and four-weekend whitewater boating flow releases prior to July 15 each year.
  • Continuing the existing minimum flows to maintain Weber River water quality and fishery values, while also continuing to provide clean, low-cost renewable power generation and maintaining the historic powerhouse.

The ruling for the company to receive this license came after a consultation process that started in March 2015 with key stakeholders about a series of project environmental improvements, proposed mitigation measures, and operational refinements, according to officials.

The FERC issued the license on March 19, 2021.

“This process was a cooperative effort involving Rocky Mountain Power, state and federal agencies, and recreational, fishing, and other public interest organizations,” says Eve Davies, Weber relicensing project manager for Rocky Mountain Power. “Their hard work, collaboration, important suggestions, and review resulted in a license that satisfies multiple-use considerations of the Weber hydroelectric project. We’re grateful for their involvement and input.”

Rocky Mountain Power says they have worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service, the Utah Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality, Trout Unlimited, American Whitewater, irrigators, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in developing the license application, which was submitted to the FERC in 2018.

The Weber hydroelectric project is located on the Weber River about nine miles southeast of Ogden near the mouth of Weber Canyon.

Officials say it was finished in 1910 by a predecessor company of Rocky Mountain Power.

The first federal license was issued in 1938 and was renewed in 1970 and 1990. 

Officials say Weber has a capacity of 3.85 megawatts, with an average annual generation of 16,926 megawatt-hours, which is equivalent to the annual electrical usage of about 1,800 typical homes.

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